According to GDS, the Holborn-based “state-of-the-art” lab will help Whitehall better meet user needs.
It claims the new lab provides “innovative technical equipment” that supports simpler, clearer and faster government services designed around the user.
The centre opened last month and teams across Whitehall have been using it to test the “exemplar services” – the 25 largest transactional services that are being transformed to “digital by default.”
The government says the lab provides a controlled testing environment in which digital services can be effectively produced.
Researchers are able to closely monitor the way people interact with a website and “empathise” with the citizens the services are produced for.
GDS claims improvements are being made by tracking facial expressions, eye movements on the screen, where someone moves and clicks their mouse cursor and conducting interviews and workshops to find out about habits, lifestyle and thought patterns.
The government says it is committed to enabling digital provision for everyone who can use it and so the lab includes accessibility technology so those who may be digitally excluded are included in testing.
Such technology includes large screens for visually impaired people, an induction loop for those hard of hearing and a joystick and compact keyboard for mobility impaired people.
Prior to GDS developing its own lab, many government research teams had contracts with external labs which will now move internally.
It is estimated that moving such services in-house will save around 25% of current costs.